Last week my daughter and her two children stayed with me while getting ready to move across the country. It was a wonderful experience and allowed me the pleasure of their company before their departure. I also realized up close and personal some of the differences in understanding and knowledge between my childhood and theirs! Let’s start with basic awareness about laundry.

These days, it seems, if you wear something once, it goes into the dirty clothes pile. There is no place to put those things that can be worn again because they are not really dirty yet. The exception might be outer wear – jackets, sweaters – only sometimes! It seems a simple thing to just wash everything, and on one hand, it is!

Years ago there was so much more to think about before putting something in the wash. Clothes wear out faster the more often they are washed and whether they are dried outside on a line or in the dryer, the sun or heat also takes its toll on a garment. The use of water was also part of the equation. Many of us had wells and being careful of our water use was part of life. Ceptic systems, common before sewers,¬†were also fragile and if you didn’t have a grey water system, you monitored the amount of water that went into it or it overflowed into the yard. Cost of detergent figured into it, amount of electricity used, time to hang the clothes on the line and then take them in before the dew fell, and so forth.

It sounds like alot of bother now. And yet it created the web of connection between all things, the knowledge of our actions being so much bigger than just ‘throw it in the wash’ and somehow it will magically appear back in our drawer! I have a vivid memory from 4 years old about laundry.

I loved wearing dresses and had a favorite dress above all others. I was very careful of my clothes because I didn’t want my favorite dresses turned into rags before I outgrew them. My Mother would make me change my dress after three days, not because it was dirty (as she was fond of saying) but because she was tired of seeing it! Then after she washed it and hung it on the line, I watched it drying in the back yard while I was playing, and occasionally felt it to see when it would be dry. I remember standing on tippy-toes to feel the hem so I would know when it was dry and could be taken down to iron. I knew the entire “trip” my dress took before I could put it on again at a very young age!

I want my Grandchildren to know this about their clothes and their lives. I want them to be aware of the connection to ‘all that is’ a sock has, or a dress, or a pair of pants. We can return to the place of remembering and create a sacred connection to the earth through these small things. This is how we will clean up our planet as well. Wear things that are not dirty more than once. It’s a start!

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